Review #13 – Change Please Coffee

Good evening folks (at least it’s evening as I write this).  Today we’re going to be looking at something a bit different from the coffees I’ve reviewed till now.  This is going to be another one that you can buy at your local orange-branded supermarket, or from mobile vans in five locations around London.

Let’s talk about Change Please.

Change Please

Change Please is a social enterprise in London, working with the homeless, staffed by the homeless and in parternship with folks such as the housing charity Shelter and the Big Issue magazine to train folks up to be baristas, to pay them a proper wage and get them off the streets and frankly I think that’s a bloody brilliant idea.  You can find more info on the site linked above and, as I said, you can try the coffee for yourself at your local Sainsburys.

NOW.  That being said, yay charity and everything else, but it’s no good if the actual coffee isn’t any good because then you’re only going to get the most altruistic of folks coming back a second time. So let’s take a look at the coffee.

Change Please have three different offerings for us, each one created by someone who’s homeless and roasted with the assistance of the Old Spike roastery in London (I totally need to try some of their own coffee too). We have –

  • Tom’s Blend
  • Lucy’s Blend
  • Ethiopia Single Origin

Each of these will set you back £4.50 at Sainsburys, though I have found that of the three only Lucy’s blend is available as beans while the other two are pre-ground, at least at the two shops near me. We’re going to be looking at Lucy’s blend today as I picked up a bag at the Coffee Festival a couple of weeks ago.

Packaging is fairly standard supermarket fare, there’s nothing that makes it radically stand out to my eye amongst the sea of other bags.  In fact, I tend to veer towards the more minimalist designs as (at least to me) that usually denotes one of the “third wave” roasters as clean text and simple designs are really in at the moment.

Here’s where the review gets a bit more interesting.  My first impressions of this coffee weren’t great, honestly. It made a very disappointingly harsh espresso shot and went unpleasantly sharp in milk, while in water it was oily and rough. Okay, thought I, not a great start, but I’m determined to give this stuff every chance.  Let’s try it in the cafetiere.

That was an improvement. It went from being unpleasant to just kinda forgettable. Not a great coffee, but far from a bad one, a perfecly decent cafetiere coffee that I wouldn’t hesitate to serve to a guest.  Still, I was struggling for something, anything, that made it properly stand out and I was definitely struggling to detect any of the specific tasting notes listed on the bag.

Okay, last chance.  Let’s try the syphon.  It’s a darker roast than I normally try with it, but at this point I had nothing to lose!

And oh, am I glad I did.  This is DEFINITELY one that benefits from a filter, so I would likely suggest a syphon, maybe V60 as well.  I’m not sure it would be great in an Aeropress but it might be worth a shot and I’m slightly regretting I didn’t think of that sooner or I could have tried it myself.  In the syphon the bitterness was finally gone and what I got instead was a rich, dark coffee where the berry and citrus notes were finally back from whatever corner they’d been hiding in.

Was it a stand out coffee?  No.  But you know what? I’d buy it again.  It’s joined Modern Standard as my go-to for the times I run out of my fresh roasted stuff and need something to tide me over till the next delivery arrives. I can’t recommend it if you only have an espresso machine, but if you have access to some sort of filter coffee maker then this is worth a look.

My one disappointment is that I can’t tell if they sell bags of beans for the other two varieties of coffee.  Their website doesn’t seem to be entirely functional at this point and clicking “More Information” under the coffees link just takes me to the same page as “Events”, with no actual information available.

I do hope they sell the other two as beans as I’d like to try them, at some point, especially the Ethiopian as I love me some Ethiopian beans. I actually have another bag of djimmah in at the moment, this time from a local roaster by the name of Campervan Coffee. You can expect a review up soon for that one.

Right, it’s nearly midnight as I wrap this up so I’m gonna head off.  Thanks for taking the time to read this and I’m glad I can give my own modest signal boost to this endeavour.


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